Sunday, January 30, 2011

Le Changement de la Classe

La vie, c’est drôle, non?

Ma situation est très interessant. Je peux essayer expliquer. Quand j’ai commencé mes etudes Français, J’avais peur. Vous pouvez lire ce blogue si vous voulez savoir pourquoi. En effet un test que j’ai pris a dit que ce soit difficile pour moi d’apprende un langue étranger. J’étais triste quand j’ai entendu les résultats du test et je me demandais si Dieu était connu ma faiblesse. Il m’a appelé aller á un pays different où il faut que je parle un langue étranger.

Malgre les résultats du test, c’est vrai que j’adore le langue, aussi les langues étrangers. Donc, J’ai dû d’essayer apprendre le langue Français. Dieu m’a demandé aller en France. J’esperais qu’il voudrait m’aider.

J’ai commencé étudier le Français en Septembre. Je n’ai étudié que 5 mois. Je savais que je faisais bien. Mais, j'ai decouvri, effectivement, je fais trés bien. Maintenant, je suis sure que le seigneur m’a aide.

Lundi, je vais changer la classe. Je ne vais plus aller à la classe Française A2, mais je vais aller à la classe Française B1. Selon mon professeur, la nouvelle classs sera bien meilleur pour moi. Dans la classe Française B1, il y a moins d’étudiants et ils vont plus vite que la classe Française A2.

J’ai encore peur parce que je dois faire beaucoup de rattrapage, mais je sais que Dieu m’aidera encore.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

He Fled

Sometimes I am thoughtlessly brave.

Take today, for example. I was on my way into Paris by myself to meet a friend for lunch and shopping. After taking a train to Notre Dame, I needed to get on the Metro to get to my rendez-vous point. As I waited in the subway station, I received a text message. I took my phone out of my purse to read it, but just then the train arrived, so I quickly put my phone away and hopped on.

The Metro was packed wall to wall, and I was sandwiched between two men who were about twice my size. I felt strangely suspicious of one of the men that was standing next to me. I am not a fearful person, but I do tend to be appropriately aware of my surroundings, particularly when traveling alone in big cities.

When I got to my my destination, I awkwardly squeezed my way through the crowd and jumped off of the train and onto the platform. I went to reach for my phone and noticed immediately that my purse was unzipped and my phone was missing. I instantly spun around, and the man of whom I was suspicious was standing right behind me, apparently hiding something in his very large hands.

I looked right at him (or should I say UP at him) and said, "Did you take my phone?"

He looked around nervously, and then opened his hand to show me MY phone. He was about to put it into an empty fabric tote bag.

He then hesitated and said to me, "You dropped it."

But I hadn't dropped it. He had taken it from my purse as I was trying to get out of the subway train.

"Please give it to me!" I said, unaware of the fact that I was confronting a pickpocket.

Would you believe he gave it to me? And then he hopped back on the train as it was pulling away. I felt pretty tough.

Next moment, another man, shorter, older and smartly dressed, approached me and asked, "Did he steal something from you?"

"Well, yes," I said, "he took my phone. But when I asked him about it he gave it back."

To which he replied, "He returned your phone because he recognized me. I am a police officer."

So while I am stupidly brave, it turns out that I am not so intimidating, after all.

Nevertheless, the whole story reminds me of how we ought to deal with the enemy of our souls. Satan is bigger and stronger than us and he comes to steal and destroy, but he cannot. One word from us, and the evil one has to flee. But he is not afraid of us. No. When we confront the enemy, he sees Jesus standing with us on the platform, and he hops back on his train.

By the way, as I think back through the entire event, I honestly cannot say whether the conversations took place in French or English. I'm guessing they were in French.

And the winner is...

After much deliberation, I have chosen G.J. of Spokane, Washington as the winner of the Starbucks tumbler from Paris. Her response was:

"I know the right answer is 'eco-friendly wax for skis and snowboards' but it sure sounds a lot like what happens after one eats a boca burger. "

Thanks to all who participated, your answers gave me a much needed chuckle!

G.J., your mug will be sent later this week, consider it filled with LOVE!

Friday, January 21, 2011

3 Simple Ways...

Before I was a missionary I only prayed for missionaries if my Sunday School teacher made me do it. I excused myself from the obligation because "prayer just isn't my gift." Besides, I figured there were little old ladies with nothing else to do who could pick up my slack.

But now I am on the other side, that is to say, I AM a missionary. And I find myself in the awkward position of having to ask for that which I, in years past, was unwilling to give.

Having been a reluctant (okay, NEGLIGENT) pray-er means that I have a little insight into how easy it is to forget to pray for missionaries. Therefore, I have created a user-friendly guide that I like to call "3 Simple Ways to Remember to Pray for Missionaries in France!"


3 Simple Ways to Remember to Pray for Missionaries in France
by Jennifer Williamson, MiDNoP (Missionary in Desperate Need of Prayer)

1. Make prayer for missionaries into a family game! When you go out, see who can be the first person to find the word, "French" and then commit to offering a quick prayer for the Williamsons whenever the word is found. If you pay attention, you will find the word "French" everywhere! Look in menus (french fries, french dip, french toast, french onion soup, etc), at nail salons (french manicure), at bakeries (french bread), and even in music stores (french horns)! Your young children can be especially helpful with this. The main thing that I want for you to know is that the quick prayers that you offer on the fly during your day to day life really do make a difference. And we need them! (BTW if you come across the word "French" in any funny/unusual/surprising places, I'd love to hear about it.)

2. If you are a wine drinker, and since France is the #1 producer of wine globally, commit to praying for the Williamsons every time you uncork a new bottle--even if the wine is from California! Pray specifically for the FRUIT that God desires to produce through our ministry in France. Pray that we would be POURED OUT as a drink offering to the Lord.

3. If you wear shoes (and I hope you do!), pray for us every time you tie up your laces. Pray that the Williamsons would have FEET that are "fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace." And then, while you're at it, go ahead and pray for the entire armor of God to protect everyone in our family AND yours! The spiritual warfare in Europe is intense and unrelenting. We must dress daily for the battle, and we need those of you back home helping to cover us.

And there you have it. Three easy ways to remember to pray for your friendly-neighborhood missionaries in France. Even if you just commit to ONE, we will be encouraged and blessed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back on Track

I took a 5 month hiatus from running. Blame it on jet lag. Blame it on culture-shock. Blame it on overwhelming fatigue. Blame it on the fact that I left my running shoes in the States. Blame it on Kylan Kracher, who laughed out loud at me when I revealed the truth about the pace at which I run. (In his defense, I really do run unbelievably slowly. I may walk faster than I run. Which means we really shouldn't blame Kylan after all.) For whatever reason, I took a five month break from running; however, the break is officially over. I am back on track.

Running, for me, has always been more of a spiritual exercise than a physical one. While I run, my thoughts are clarified. While I run, God reminds me of His truth. While I run, I see where God is at work in me and through me and for me.

For the past several months I have been feeling very far from God. One explanation for the perceived distance is simply that Europe is a very dark place. Even though I was praying and spending time in the Word, I continued to feel far from God. Then, on New Year's Day I had a revelation: I need to run. I need to run because I need to have that time alone with Jesus.

I run in total silence, without an iPod. In the midst of my increased heart rate, in the rhythm of my movements, and even in my labored breathing I find that I am most aware of the presence of God. I am moving on the outside, but I am still on the inside. Running is my "still" place where I know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).

So while I have NO New Year's Resolutions, because of my New Year's Revelation, I am back in my habit of running three days a week. And while I will not drop any weight or win any races as a result of my running, I am certain that I will benefit. In fact, I have already. For in the discipline of running, I draw near to God; and, as He has promised, He is drawing near to me (James 4:8).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What in the World!?!

You can win this lovely Starbucks Tumbler DIRECT from Paris, France!

But first, a story.

There was once a Sunday school teacher who asked her class, "What is brown and furry and has a bushy tail?"

Well, Johnny had been in Sunday school all his life, so he knew the answer. In his experience EVERY Sunday school question had the SAME answer. So he raised his hand, and said (shaking his head), "Well I KNOW the right answer is 'Jesus', but it sounds a lot like a squirrel to me."

So, here's the the game: Today, while shopping David and I came across THIS product:

(Forgive the photo quality, I had to take the picture using my phone)

We would like for YOU to tell us what, precisely, this product IS. However, because we know some of you are cheater-pants (like me) who will Google the right answer, there is a twist. You must respond like Johnny in the story above. That is to say, your response should read like this:

"I KNOW the right answer is ________________, but it sure sounds a lot like ______________ to me."

We will award points for BOTH accuracy and creativity.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Dozen Little Known Facts, which May or May Not be of Interest

  1. We purchased a used microwave for 20 Euro from a family who was moving to Africa. But I have been without a microwave for so long, I forget why I ever needed one in the first place. Oh wait...MICROWAVE POPCORN! THAT is why I need a microwave.
  2. One of my biggest heroes is a long-distance truck driver. I don't think he knows he is my hero. I need to find a way to tell him. He is a man of great character, a quiet giant, and I feel so blessed to know him. He also happens to be my second cousin.
  3. My aforementioned cousin introduced me to Derek Prince, who quickly became a favorite author. Have you read anything by Derek Prince? Or have you heard rebroadcasts of his radio program? If you do, you will be blessed.
  4. Hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) in France is sort-of bitter sweet, and j'adore ca.
  5. Our vacuum cleaner sucks. Or rather, it doesn't suck. Which makes it suck. Get it?
  6. David is "up to something" but I am pretending not to notice since my birthday is just around the corner. But seeing as I am an incredibly nosy person, pretending not to notice something is an act of severe self-denial. Because I have an inquiring mind. And inquiring minds want to know.
  7. The DVD player in our laptop has stopped working. Is that reason enough to get a new laptop? I really want a new laptop. And a dog. Not that one has anything to do with the other.
  8. We have had a friend sleeping on our couch for the past few nights. He is a GEM colleague who is in the final phases of fundraising. He and his wife hope to make the move to France this Fall. They will be working primarily with GEM youth...i.e. with kids like our boys. We have loved having him here and we really wish that his wife were here too! Of course, then the couch would've been a bit crowded. (I miss my guest room!)
  9. I received bises (kisses on each cheek) from about 10 choir members last Monday at our rehearsal. Before the Christmas concert, no one gave me bises at choir. I guess all of the time that we spent hanging out together during our Christmas concerts changed our relationships. We are now friends with the people in our choir. We have crossed a line. We are officially "in." How cool is that? I think we now need to arrive earlier at choir, though. All that kissing takes some of time.
  10. I am going to start running again as soon as I purchase running shoes. I will be missing the sunny skies of Spokane more than ever, but for a number of reasons (not the least of which is my love for French cheese) I need to get back on track (pun intended).
  11. I sleep with three pillows.
  12. We have recently learned three new verb tenses in French: Imparfait, Futur simple, et Subjonctif. Favorite new French phrase? "Debrouillez-vous!" Figure it out.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Effects of Regret on Showering by Candlelight

When we returned from our vacation in the alps reality smacked us in the face in the form of a power outage. As I type my computer is plugged in to an outlet in the hallway of our apartment building because the electricity to our unit was shut off while we were gone. We came home to liquid ice-cubes, a room temperature refrigerator, and total darkness.

Our power was turned off because we have not paid our bill. We were not ignoring bills, we simply never received one. I would like to say that we were so overwhelmed with life and school that we didn't even notice we were not receiving electric bills, but that would be a lie. We were very aware. We even asked several friends and colleagues about electric bills, since we were concerned that we had not received one. We were told not to worry about it, because in France the electric company often only sends bills once a year. It seems that we did not get totally accurate information. And I do not blame anyone but myself.

Why? Because I KNEW in my knower that something was amiss. I knew down in my gut, and I failed to do anything about it. I am not a worrier, but I could not let go of the feeling that we needed to further investigate the absence of an electric bill these past three months. And still, I did nothing.


I regret ignoring my..., my...., well, my instincts, I guess. Or my common sense? Or was it the Holy Spirit I ignored? Either way, I am filled with regret. And I hate regret.

I try really hard to live a life that is free of regret. That means I am intentional about what I do, and perhaps more importantly, I embrace what IS. I choose to like my life, to delight in my circumstances, and to accept my fate. But then there are those moments when, despite my best efforts, I make a bad choice, and I CANNOT like the outcome.

I have dealt with power-outages in the past, most often as the result of bad weather. In those instances, I could carpe diem! I found the candle light romantic, we played non-electronic games as a family, we ate take-out. It was an adventure. But my response this time was quite the opposite. I resented having to shower by candle-light, and I was disgusted that the change in eating plans obliterated my grocery budget for the month.
So I wonder why I can enjoy a power outage that is not my fault but I despise one that is my fault. I mean, the resulting circumstance is the same, no? But in one circumstance I am innocent and in the other I am culpable. And my guilt produces regret. And regret is a nasty thief. Regret makes me loathe myself and binds me to my mistakes. But there is hope....

Jesus came to free me not only from my sin, but from the GUILT of my sin. With Jesus, regret has no power over me.

I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD"--
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

So, I stopped licking my wounds. David and I apologized to the boys for our oversight which resulted in this inconvenience (NOT tragedy) and we started looking on the bright side:

  • By taking our suitcases full of dirty clothes to the laundry mat we had piles of clean clothes in 2 hours instead of in 2 days, which is what it would have taken in our tiny washer at home.
  • We finally got to try the Kebab take-out restaurant in Chilly-Mazarin.
  • An outlet in the hallway outside of our apartment is close enough for us to reach via an extension cord. We are utilizing this source of power for a few necessities.
  • We are warm and have had hot showers because heat and water are centrally controlled...and we are very thankful for both of those luxuries.
You see God is faithful despite my mistakes. When I mess up, He doesn't force me to sit in a puddle of regret. He says, "Repent! Get up! Shake it off! Learn! And move forward."

And so I have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reality Check

Yes, we are in the Alps. Yes, we have been skiing. Yes, we are having a marvelous time.

But...We are also cooking 3 meals a day for 30 teenagers, and YES, we HAVE to wear the oh-so-glamorous hairnets.

Confession: The hairnet is the only part of the job that I don't like. I am LOVING cooking in this kitchen with my sous chef, David. My Dad would SO love this, too.

After our week at the Gite, we moved a few miles down the road to Camp des Cimes, where we are helping at a GEM Youth conference. The kids are awesome, and there is no place we would rather be!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Walk in the Alps on New Year's Day

David and I took a walk in the Alps on New Year's Day. It was beautiful beyond description. The sun crested over the mountain just as we passed the tiny church in the town of Besse. The bells in this church chime one minute before the hour and then again on the hour. It was like having an alarm clock with a one-minute snooze, waking us gently each morning.

This is a view of the town of Besse from a little further up the mountain. The homes and shops are situated shoulder to shoulder, as if snuggled together to keep warm.

And while there are no lights along the roads, the walking paths are punctuated with elegant lamp posts: beacons of civilization for hard-core hikers.

As we watched this little boy tow his sled up the mountain, we wondered what it would be like to grow up among the Alps in a town like Besse. We could hardly imagine it.

We encountered other walkers along the way, and asked one to take our picture.

We spoke little, admired much, and silently joined in the mountains' praise of our creator.

Overwhelming grandeur. Indescribable colors. Air that almost tasted sweet.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1